Diet, food, health, herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Tea and you: brewing it, enjoying it & getting the health benefits

tea oolong cup
A delicious oolong tea known as Big Red Robe from the MayKing Tea range.

I really love tea so it’s no surprise that I snapped up an opportunity to do a tea appreciation course through Bright Learning with tea educator and enthusiast, May King Tsang (founder of MayKing Tea). With British Chinese heritage, May King brought the traditional English white and two sugar lovers and the green tea purists together giving us a lesson in making good tea (from picking the tea leaves, brewing them well and then appreciating them) as well as teaching us about some of the styles of tea, their flavour characteristics, health benefits, some tea-tech-talk, all while we enjoyed several cups of very tasty, good quality, loose leaf tea.

Here’s 10 things you may or may not know to ponder while you sip your cup of tea:

  1. Tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant with Chinese and Indian varietals. Herbals (eg. chamomile and peppermint) and rooibos are technically not tea as they come from different plants and are more correctly known as infusions, although we all call them teas anyway due to the preparation method.
  2. There are six types of tea: white, green, yellow, oolong, black and pu-erh. They are all made with the same tea plant but the leaves that are used, oxidisation and processing methods vary for each one. White and green teas are less oxidised than black teas are. White teas are made with just the bud and two first leaves from the branch. As tea leaves are oxidised they become sweeter (although this is only to a point and then they are more bittersweet like dark chocolate).

    MayKing Tea's delicate, white tea called 'white peony'.
    MayKing Tea’s delicate, white tea called ‘white peony’.
  3. Antioxidants are not only found in white and green teas. All tea leaves contain antioxidants and the content is much of a muchness between the six types of tea, so drink the type of tea you like best.
  4. Tea leaves do contain more caffeine than coffee beans per gram of raw material. However less tea leaves are used in making a cup of tea so there is actually less caffeine in a cup of tea than a cup of coffeeBlack tea does contain the most caffeine of the tea types, there is less in green tea and less again in most white tea. A type of white tea known as ‘silver needle’ contains a high level of caffeine as it is made with only the bud at the tip of the tea plant branch, and caffeine is more highly concentrated in these leaves. A Japanese style of tea known as matcha also has a high level of caffeine. Caffeine gives tea a ‘Yang’ property and l-theanine gives tea it’s ‘Yin’ relaxing, mood-enhancing property. This is why Asian and British cultures consider most problems can be fixed with a “nice sit down and a good cup of tea.” Choose the type of tea that you need according to your taste, mood, energy and the time of day.
  5. Tea can be flavoured by having herbs added to it (think Moroccan Mint green tea – which is actually a traditional Chinese blend that traveled with the spice trade). Tea leaves can also be flavoured by having herbs placed with the fresh pickings and infused under the sun for several days, the herbs are then removed so your brew is only made with the flavoured tea leaves. Some highly valued jasmine green teas are made this way. Some teas are ‘enhanced’ with artificial flavours so make sure to read the labels.

    MayKing Tea's osmanthus oolong tea. I loved this one, it reminded of my boat trip down the Li River in Guangxi.
    MayKing Tea’s osmanthus oolong tea. I loved this one, it reminded of my boat trip down the Li River in Guangxi.
  6. The water temperature required varies depending on the type of tea you are making. And you don’t need a fancy kettle or thermometer to measure this. Use fresh water (pH 7 is ideal) in the kettle each time and study the bubbles in the water level gauge to get the right temperature for the leaves you are using. Generally white and green teas need cooler water (70-80°C) and oolong, black and herbals need hotter water (around 90°C+). Here’s a guide to the temperature and bubble size to expect for each type of tea.
  7. Tea bags don’t contain the ‘sweepings from the factory floor’ but they aren’t usually made with excellent quality tea leaves either. Tea quality is best judged by examining the tea leaf itself so this is a reason to buy loose leaf tea. Also the more times a tea leaf has been cut, the darker your brew will be. The new triangular shape tea bags doing the rounds now often do contain better quality leaves than regular tea bags however they are usually made from a ‘plastic silken gauze’ which doesn’t biodegrade well, so not an environmentally friendly choice.
  8. You can leave your tea leaves to infuse in a white or green tea for about 3 minutes. Black and oolong teas can stay in contact with the leaves for as long as you like. The infuser size is considered to best if smaller for black teas and larger for green teas.
  9. Medicinally, in Chinese medicine, we consider that tea is slightly bitter-sweet, cooling to the body and benefits the Heart, Liver, Stomach, Bladder and Large Intestine channels. White and green teas are the most cooling and black teas are warmer. Tea is considered to be useful taken at the start of a ‘hot’ common cold, to assist in the digestion of heavy, rich and fatty foods, for scanty urination or taken as a strong brew for diarrhoea.
  10. It is considered that in brewing your cup of tea a process termed the ‘agony of the leaf‘ occurs: there will be a ‘tumble between the leaf and the water’ to produce that wonderful ‘liquor’ we know as tea.

    A delicious cup of osmanthus oolong tea.
    A delicious cup of osmanthus oolong tea.

Here’s more on tea and happiness, how to make corn silk ‘tea’ infusion and how to make chai.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

acupuncture, fertility, herbal medicine, pregnancy, Traditional Chinese Medicine

The role of change in fertility treatment

My great friend and excellent Chinese medicine practitioner, Peter Kington, has written his piece on ‘change’ for The Health and Happiness Collective blog hop today.

Peter shares his experience about where lifestyle, diet, acupuncture and herbal medicine changes are necessary on the fertility journey. While some of these changes are easier than others, I completely agree with Peter’s ideas here – this is also my experience in helping my fertility patients too. We want to give you the support you need to make changes which will enhance the likelihood of a healthier pregnancy, a healthier baby and to recover better from your birth.

Read Peter’s excellent post: Change and the Fertile Body.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

acupuncture, aromatherapy, herbal medicine, motivational

The Health & Happiness Collective

Hopping along and sharing the good words just like Kermit the Frog

Folks, I have exciting news!

I’ve just joined up with a group of some of Australia’s best acupuncturists, naturopaths, aromatherapists and horticulturalists to share our collective knowledge with you!

We’re called The Health & Happiness Collective and we’re doing a blog hop.

A what?!

A blog hop is an event. It means that each blogger from The Health & Happiness Collective will share some of their knowledge and experience through their blog in the next few weeks. We’re all going to write on the same topic so you are going to get a range of different viewpoints to stimulate your mind and bring you good health and happiness  in line with our theme.

The theme for our very first blog hop is:

CHANGE

When each blogger writes, I’m going to let you know so you can get on over and read what these brilliant people have to say.

Here’s a quick preview of the clever people (and their blogs) who form The Health & Happiness Collective:

 

We’re really excited to bring this blog hop to you. Get ready to explore ‘change’ in a health and happiness context.

But before we share, what thoughts and emotions come to mind for you on the topic of change? Use the comments section to share your responses.

And I’ll leave you with this great quote:

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

Diet, food, food allergy, herbal medicine, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Make your own Vietnamese rice paper rolls

IMG_1734We’ve been experiencing some sky high temperatures in Brisbane this summer, with more to come. Now, Chinese medicine usually frowns upon a large intake of raw and cold temperature foods but on days like today fresh, raw food is incredibly cooling and refreshing. If you want to know more about how to live well in Summer (including some cooling tips) click here.

So, I’ve been making some vegetarian rice paper rolls. These can be easily adapted to include the vegies that you like best – you can use my recipe just as a suggestion. My rice paper rolls recipe is vegetarian but you can substitute the tofu for organic chicken or duck if that is your preference.

Cucumber, lettuce and mint are considered to be thermally cold in Chinese medicine and that’s exactly why we’re using them on such a hot day. I like to team them up with some warming herbs including basil and coriander and a sauce that includes some fresh grated ginger and chilli to support the spleen and stomach (digestive system) with the extra burden of harder to digest raw food. So pay attention to your own body folks, and adjust the amount of raw food you eat that makes you feel well. Those with weak digestive systems or a tendency to ‘feel the cold’ would most likely do well to limit the raw food.

But back to the rice paper rolls (and they are gluten and dairy-free too) – here’s the recipe:

Vegetarian rice paper rolls

Ingredients

Vary the ingredient quantities to make the amount of rolls that you require. It’s easy to prepare some more salad ingredients as you go if you run short.

  • Rice papers (round, Vietnamese ones) – you’ll need 2 per finished roll
  • Lettuce leaves, medium size (can be fancy lettuces – mix it up with some different colours and varieties)
  • Carrot, grated
  • Cucumber, thinly sliced and about 10cm long
  • Yellow capsicum, thinly sliced. (Optional)
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Tofu, pre-fried. Cut into thin slices.
  • Mint leaves, about 3-5 per roll
  • Basil leaves, 2-4 per roll
  • Coriander leaves, sliced and sprinkle on each roll. (Optional)

Method

  1. Add some warm water to a large bowl.
  2. Soak a rice paper in the water for a few seconds and place on a clean, flat surface. Repeat with another rice paper and place it on top of the first rice paper.
  3. Lie a lettuce leaf in the half closest to you on the rice paper.
  4. Then top with some carrot,  cucumber and capsicum. IMG_1715
  5. Add on top the avocado and tofu slices. IMG_1716
  6. Then place a few mint, basil and coriander leaves on top. IMG_1717
  7. Roll the rice paper end that is closest to you over the top squeezing the ingredients in tightly*. Roll away from you and tuck the sides in before you have finished rolling it up.IMG_1720
  8. Repeat until you have made as many rice paper rolls as you desire. You can then serve them whole or slice them in half on an angle.  IMG_1724

*When you first start making these it will take a few attempts to get the filling quantity and rolling technique right, but once you have it these are easy to make.

A quick dipping sauce can be made with a dash of tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), sweet chilli sauce, rice wine vinegar and freshly grated ginger. Set the quantities to suit your own taste.IMG_1729

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

acupuncture, Diet, emotional health, exercise, food, food allergy, health, herbal medicine, martial arts, mental health, motivational, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

A gift for you and a gift for me.

Yin Yang birthday cake
A very decadent (and appropriate) birthday cake my sister once made me. We are a family of baked good lovers!

It’s my birthday today. Yes, I’m part of the Christmas Eve birthday club. The day has it’s pros and cons but it’s mine and I’m a very proud late-December Capricorn.

There’s something about an approaching birthday that makes me do a stock take of the past year and a look towards the coming year, so I’ve done a big clean out and made room for the new by giving the old away. Let’s just say the charity bin is several bags richer of some lovely threads that I just don’t wear anymore. May they make someone else happy.

I’ve also been absolutely spoiled rotten by friends and family today (and in the days leading up today). What a bunch of generous, talented and loving souls I am honoured to be surrounded by.

Thank you all.

paeony pillow cases

I also had to share this gift with you. An amazing friend screen printed these pillow cases with my new clinic branding – gorgeous huh? I am so grateful to have friends, family and patients who support me so well in my healing work.

Now, I wanted to share another gift with all of you too. It’s the top ten list of articles by views on my blog this year. The Wellness Ninja has tripled it’s readership this year – thank you so much! So here is the best of 2013’s blog posts for you to devour over the break in case you missed any!

Please enjoy them. And may you enjoy this festive season with your friends and family.

  1. Nourishing the blood with Traditional Chinese Medicine and wholefoods
  2. Five Chinese Medicine tips to soothe a sore throat
  3. Gluten and dairy-free fruit and nut slice
  4. It’s time for a detox – Traditional Chinese Medicine style
  5. Bruise remedies for martial artists, athletes and the accident prone
  6. Three herbs a Jedi Knight may be prescribed to develop the Force within
  7. Vegetarian quiche: a tasty gluten and dairy-free recipe
  8. The acupuncturist and the broken heart
  9. Delicious vegetarian nachos (gluten and dairy free)
  10. Five natural medicine tips for surviving the exam period

And also have you downloaded your free Herbs, health and acupressure ebook yet?

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, pregnancy, Traditional Chinese Medicine

One week ’til the Christmas break

Woodford Folk Festival 2013-14

Where did 2013 go? Can you believe that it is only a week until Christmas?

I only have one last week of acupuncture and massage appointments in the clinic before I take a short break. My last days are:

  • Thursday, 19th December: 7.30am – 12.30pm
  • Friday, 20th December: 12.30pm – 5pm

I’ll be back at the clinic in the new year on Thursday, 9th January 2014.

Call Acupuncture & Natural Therapies Centre to make an appointment on 07 3844 2217.

Thanks to all of my patients, mentors, friends, family and blog followers for your support this year. It has been a big year of change. And some nicely laid foundations pave the way for a wonderful year of healing in 2014. I’ve already decided to attend two excellent masterclass seminars next year: one on western herbal medicine in pregnancy and another on Chinese herbal medicines for your constitutional type. I’ll also be continuing my Masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine study.

I’m looking forward to recharging at the Woodford Folk Festival over the break – music, dance, good company and food for the soul. More about why I love this festival here.

If I don’t see you before or during the Christmas/New Year break, I wanted to wish you all a very happy and healthy time with friends and family. May 2014 bring plenty of health and happiness to you all. It’s been a pleasure to have been a part of your healing journey this year.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

acupuncture, Diet, health, herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine

5 Chinese medicine tips to soothe a sore throat

Cold & flu tea, with lemon and honey.
Peppermint tea with lemon and honey.

It seems there are some sore throats going around at the moment which is characteristic of a time when there is change in the weather. (Just think about above-average high temperatures, windy days and sometimes a drop off in temperature after a storm.) In addition we all get a lot more social out and about in spring this increases our risk of picking up a spring/summer cold virus. And this all happens when many of us are run down from a very busy year, pushing through to the Christmas/New Year break. (If you are feeling run down make sure to book in for an appointment to get your energy and immune system back on track – the last thing you want is to get sick on your holidays!)

A sore throat is often your first warning sign that you have picked up a bug. Act immediately on your treatment to prevent the sore throat developing into a full blown cold or to at least lessen the severity of one.

If you have picked up a sore throat (often termed a wind-heat attack in Chinese medicine as symptoms are sudden and usually hot in nature – feverish, sweating, yellow/green phlegm).

Here’s my top five tips to put out the fire and soften the razor blades of a sore throat:

  1. Salt water gargles. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a small glass of warm water. Gargle as many times per day as you can.
  2. Peppermint tea with a squeeze of lemon and a dash of honey. Lemon and peppermint are cooling but peppermint also helps to promote the release of the ‘wind-heat pathogen’ by opening the pores and honey will moisten a dry throat. Drink this likes it’s water as you will need to keep your fluids up anyway. Mulberry leaves and chrysanthemum may also be added to the tea.
  3. Pear anything. Eat fresh pears, cook them or juice them (small amounts regularly). Pears are used in Chinese medicine to cool and moisten a sore throat. Watermelon and figs are other sore throat favourites.
  4. Herbal medicine. The big guns! A personalised herbal formula can be made up for your individual symptoms. Often your formula can be gargled so that you get the local action of the herbs prior to swallowing. A herbal throat spray can also be convenient and welcome relief.
  5. Acupuncture. We have some excellent acupuncture techniques for taking the heat out of a sore throat quickly and addressing other symptoms like sinus congestion.

If you have come down with a common cold or flu check out these cold and flu tips to manage your other symptoms.

And remember at the first sign of a sore throat use these tips immediately!

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Uncategorized

My new clinic

peony red webAs you will have seen in my last post I have been offered and have decided to accept a permanent Chinese Medicine lecturing position at the Endeavour College of Natural Health. I’m excited about embracing this new challenge but as a result I will be moving on from a position I have very much enjoyed at the HealthWise Clinic.

My last day at HealthWise Clinic will be Wednesday 6th November 2013. Call (07) 3839 1077 to make an appointment.

But I’m not giving up clinical practice altogether. I can’t. I love what I do too much.

Your future health care

As a Chinese Medicine Board Registered Acupuncturist, it is important to me that you are well looked after for your health care needs and I will do my best to make sure they are met for your individual situation.

For those of you who have been seeing me at the HealthWise Clinic over the last (almost) six years I’d like to recommend the acupuncture services of my HealthWise colleagues, David McLeod and Zam Martin.

If you are a massage patient please contact me and I can refer you to a massage therapist who is convenient to you.

Or if you prefer…

New clinic contact details

Although my appointment times will be limited due to accepting a permanent lecturing position, I will continue to practice acupuncture and massage from this clinic:

Acupuncture & Natural Therapies Centre
26 Thomas Street
West End  QLD  4101
Ph: (07) 3844 2217

My first day at this clinic will be Thursday 7th November 2013.

If you wish to contact me

Please feel free to contact me to discuss your future health care options. And please know that you are always welcome to stay in touch. You can:

  • ‘like’ my facebook page
  • ‘follow’ me on twitter
  • ‘follow’ this blog by email (link close to the top of the right hand column)
  • email me directly

Thank you for placing your trust in me to provide your health care. I am truly honoured to have shared your healing journey with you.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

Diet, food, herbal medicine, pregnancy, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Preserved lemons: traditional Chinese use and a recipe

lemons preservedA couple of months ago I put on my very first batch of home made preserved lemons. I did a deal with my parents. They supplied the homegrown organic lemons and two big jars, and I’d do the hard work of slicing, juicing, salting and storing – we’d end up with a big jar of the finished product each.

Well, as it turns out they are as delicious as any I’ve ever bought and well worth the two month wait. I followed the Poh’s Kitchen recipe but I left my lemons in halves split down the middle (as if quartered) but still attached by the rind. I stuffed the salt into the split.

Preserved lemons are often associated with Moroccan cooking, in particular tagines. But they also have been used in parts of Asia.  When I was teaching Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) dietetics class last semester our very traditional Chinese text mentioned the preserved lemon. This salty and sour delicacy was said to be useful for “vomiting and loss of appetite or threatened abortion.” Which makes it a good food for relieving morning sickness. In fact, many women find that lemon or lime juice added to water does ease nausea associated with pregnancy. As for preventing miscarriage, well there are no clinical trials to back up this claim (and if you suspected that your pregnancy was at risk I’d be recommending a medical check up). But this traditional use relates to the the sour flavour which has an astringent, constricting quality and the salty flavour which benefits the Kidneys (the organ in TCM responsible for reproduction and birth, among many other functions). Another text recommends them for Phlegm-Heat disorders including bronchitis and sinusitis and Liver Qi stagnation (if you don’t know what that is click here).

The other interesting thing about Chinese preserved lemons is that they are said to be a specialty of around the city of Nanning in Guangxi province, China. It was in this region that I completed my acupuncture internship at several teaching hospitals. The Zhuang people, an ethnic minority, used preserved lemons in their congee (Chinese rice porridge). Their preserved lemons are stored for far longer (eg. years) and look quite different. Here’s some more information and a recipe. Interestingly, during my studies in Nanning I also learned some traditional medicine techniques of the Zhuang people.

lemons lemons juiced lemons halved

I think they are simply delicious. If you want some recipes that feature preserved lemons as an ingredient, click here.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

acupuncture, health, herbal medicine

Get your free Herbs, Health & Acupressure ebook

ebook cover HHAThe fabulous naturopath Kathleen Murphy and I co-authored a little gem of an e-book a short while ago. It followed on from a presentation that we gave at the packed Blue Lotus tent at the Woodford Folk Festival.

We wanted to teach some simple self care techniques we often talk about in our clinics for these common health complaints:

  • Digestive disorders
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Pain

Kathleen covered the easy homemade herbal remedies and I taught some simple acupressure techniques.

To thank you for following or subscribing to my blog (you can subscribe using the link on the right side of the page) I wanted to offer you a free copy of the e-book: “An introduction to health, herbs & acupressure: simple tips and home remedies for good health.”

Click here to download the ebook – herbs health acupressure 2013 for free!

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.